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Court of Appeal for BC
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1. Introduction

This Notice provides modified directions on filing documents in civil and criminal appeals during the COVID-19 pandemic. It rescinds and replaces all previous versions of this Notice. The updated information in this Notice focuses on allowing e-filing in criminal matters, minor changes to formatting of documents, and eliminating restrictions on e-filing for sealed appeals or appeals involving publication bans.

For civil appeals, despite Rule 54.1(5), all documents must be e-filed by lawyers using Court Services Online (CSO). For criminal appeals, e-filing is optional for all. Paper, fax, or email filings as contemplated by Section 3.7 of this Notice will be accepted only in the following cases:

  • In criminal appeals, where parties are encouraged but not required to use the e-filing system;
  • In civil appeals, where self-represented litigants are also encouraged but not required to use the e-filing system;
  • Any document in civil or criminal chambers that exceeds 300 pages;
  • Any document in civil or criminal appeals that is larger than 100MB in size;
  • Mandatory condensed books filed in advance of the hearing of an appeal in accordance with Section 3.5 below;
  • Any other documents to be filed in paper as directed by the Registrar (particularly in case managed appeals where the record exceeds, or is expected to exceed, 8,000 pages).
2. Overview of the E-filing Process in Civil & Criminal Appeals

2.1 Getting Started: Obtain a Court Services Online (CSO) Account

Parties who have never used electronic filing must create a BCeID account (either a Basic or Business account) or a BC Online account and register it with Court Services Online. Anyone having difficulty with electronic filing should contact Court Services Online Support either by email Courts.CSO@gov.bc.ca or call toll free within Canada 1-800-663-6102 for assistance. Please do not contact the registry for assistance with electronic filing. The registry will not be able to assist you.

2.2 Formatting Requirements for e-Filed Documents

All documents filed through Court Services Online (CSO) must be in Portable Document Format (PDF) and must comply with the following requirements:

  • Be Less than 100MB in Size: Current limitations to the e-filing system do not allow documents larger than 100MB to be filed;
  • True Copies: Provide a legibly reproduced true representation (i.e., an identical or true copy) of the original document, whether that original is scanned from paper or saved into PDF from another program, such as Microsoft Word;
  • Comply with Court Forms: Format documents in accordance with court forms, except for certain paper-based requirements that are dispensed with as described below in Section 2.3;
  • Page Numbered: Number pages so that the PDF page numbering matches the actual page numbering of the document (e.g. PDF page “25” of the electronic appeal book brings up page “25.” To achieve this, do not assign page numbers to the title page and index, instead assign “page 1” to the first page of argument/content). Place PDF page numbers in the top centre of each page and number all pages in the document sequentially in this manner, even if the Court form does not require it;
  • Avoid Scanning: Only scan documents where necessary. Do not scan factums, submissions or other documents that have been created electronically. If scanning is necessary because the original document is in paper, the scan must be Optical Character Recognized (OCR’ed) so that text in the PDF can be copied and pasted into another document;
  • Do not Enable Security Settings: Do not incorporate any file properties or activate any security settings that might restrict or prevent the Court from viewing, printing, saving, annotating, or searching the electronic document;
  • Hyperlinked Index and PDF Bookmarks: Appeal books, appeal records, factums, transcripts, motion books, books of authorities, written arguments and any other documents over 25 pages in size must include an index and PDF bookmarks, regardless of whether the current court form prescribes this requirement. Such bookmarks must consistently, meaningfully, and clearly describe the individual documents or sections of the document. For example, it is not acceptable in an affidavit to bookmark to “Exhibit 1,” Exhibit 2” etc. The index should describe the contents of each section: e.g.: “Exhibit 1 – Letter from John to Jane Doe.” The document must be set to open the bookmarks automatically on opening the file. There is no requirement to internally hyperlink different filings (e.g. hyperlink a factum to an appeal book) and the e-filing system does not currently support this capability;
  • Books of Authorities: Case authorities in factums, statements or submissions may continue to be hyperlinked to external databases (e.g. CanLII), so long as login to those databases is not required. However, the Court also requires a complete PDF book of authorities that is not linked to an external database, with an index and bookmarks (as stated above).

Court of Appeal guides for using Adobe DC Pro to meet these requirements are available here. There are also many low-cost or free alternatives to the Adobe software. Additionally, anyone preparing PDF documents to file with the Court of Appeal can email the Canadian Bar Association BC branch at members@cbabc.org for assistance using Adobe software to meet the above requirements.

2.3 Changes to Court Rules and Directives for e-Filed Documents

This Notice changes several rules and requirements related to service and filing for civil appeals. All requirements set out in the Rules and Practice Directives (civil and criminal) that cannot be met when documents are filed electronically, (e.g. requirements to file copies of documents, or to bind documents like the factum in specific ways) are suspended.

For greater certainty, the following requirements are suspended:

  • Volumes: There is no need to split files less than 100 megabytes into 300/200 page “volumes.” For example, a book of authorities should be a sequentially numbered single PDF file of less than 100MB, not split into multiple 200 page files;
  • Use Alternative Forms of Signature: Except for affidavits, orders, and statutory declarations, documents filed solely with a typewritten signature (e.g., "Joan Smith") satisfy the signature requirement. Alternatively, scanned signatures are acceptable for all documents, including affidavits, orders and statutory declarations;
  • No Transcript Extract Books: Do not file a Transcript Extract Book under civil Rule 27. The parties must use the condensed book process described in section 3.5;
  • No Coloured Covers: Coloured covers of books or documents are not required;
  • Limited Retention of Paper Versions: The requirement to retain the paper version of the document submitted electronically under Rules 54.1 (6), (7), or (9) is modified. If the party can prove, to the satisfaction of the Court, that the record has been securely kept in electronic format (such as PDF/A), the party only needs to retain the electronic version.

In addition, the following Practice Directives do not apply to electronic filings:

3. How and When to E-File

3.1 Optional E-filing for All in Criminal Appeals

In criminal appeals, all lawyers and self-represented litigants are encouraged to use the e-filing system, but may also continue to file in accordance with section 3.7.

3.2 Optional E-Filing for Self-Represented Litigants in Civil Appeals

In civil appeals, lawyers must e-file. Self-represented litigants are encouraged to e-file, but may also continue to file in accordance with section 3.7.

3.3 No e-Filing for Documents that Exceed 300 Pages in Civil or Criminal Chambers

No document may be electronically filed in chambers if that document exceeds 300 pages. If the document exceeds this size, it must be filed in paper (in person or by courier/agent) in accordance with Section 3.7 below.

3.4 No e-Filing Documents Exceeding 100MB

Court Services Online (CSO) has a 100MB limit on the size of electronically filed documents. This size limitation will cover about 80% of the Court’s electronic filings. If the document is larger than 100 MB, the material cannot be electronically filed and must be submitted in paper in accordance with Section 3.7 below. Do not attempt to file multiple volumes of a document through the e-filing system or file a portion electronically and a portion in paper. For larger appeals in excess of 8,000 pages, see Section 4 below.

3.5 Mandatory Condensed Books

In appeals where statements, factums, transcripts, authorities, or appeal books have been e-filed, parties must file paper copies of a condensed book for the Court to use in the appeal hearing.

Parties should file three (3) copies and serve their condensed books on the opposing parties at least seven (7) business days before the hearing of the appeal. The requirement in Condensed Books (Civil & Criminal Practice Directive, 19 September 2011) that they be handed up in Court is dispensed with.

The Condensed Book may contain documents essential to the hearing, but only those that must be physically shown to the Court, including those excerpts from transcript, appeal book and full case authorities that the party will refer to in its oral argument. The Court does not find excerpts of authorities useful.

3.6 E-filing Sound and Video Exhibits

Rarely, there may be a need to include electronic media in appeal books, such as audio or video recordings. The process for doing this with paper filings is described in Electronic Media in Appeal Books (Civil & Criminal Practice Directive, 13 May 2016). Presently, the e-filing system will not allow parties to embed multimedia within PDF documents. Accordingly, parties must indicate in the appeal book index that electronic media is being submitted separately and must submit the related electronic media by providing three identical memory sticks (labeled with the appeal file number #CAXXXXX). These may be submitted in accordance with Section 3.7 below.

3.7 Filing by Paper, Fax and Email (Only Where Permitted by Sections 3.1 – 3.6)

For those exceptions outlined in sections 3.1 to 3.6 only, parties may file documents in the following ways:

  • By Fax: In the case of filings that are less than 20 pages, by fax in accordance with Use of Facsimile in the Court of Appeal (Civil & Criminal Practice Directive, 19 September 2011), with the understanding that the prohibition on filing bound materials does not apply;
  • By Email: For factums, statements, transcripts, appeal records, authorities and appeal books only, by sending PDF copies less than 25MB by e-mail to CACounter@bccourts.ca. Any emailed documents must observe all requirements in Section 2.2 above, including those filed by selfrepresented litigants.
  • Paper Copies in Person or by Mail/Courier/Agent: Please check here to determine whether the registry counter is open for business or closed due to Covid-19 restrictions.
    • If the registry counter is open, documents must be filed at 400 – 800 Hornby Street.
    • If the Registry counter is closed, documents must be filed at 206 - 800 Smithe Street. Note the registry may not process these filings for at least 24 hours, given COVID-19 risks, but will backdate documents to the date they were postmarked or delivered. Please do not deliver any copies besides those required by the Court. You will receive an email attaching a scan of the stamped cover page as confirmation that the document is filed and, for that purpose, you must provide an email address on the cover of the document to be filed. You should serve the remaining copies of your document together with a copy of the stamped cover page.

3.8 Processing Times for E-Filed Documents

In accordance with Rule 54.1(13), e-filed documents will be backdated to the date upon which they were filed. The Court will try to process all e-filings each day; however, it may require up to 24hrs.

4. Case Management of Large Appeals

If an appeal involves, or is anticipated to involve, more than 8,000 pages of material, parties must seek directions from the Registrar as soon as possible and not less than 90 days prior to the hearing of the appeal.

5. Registry Contact Information

General Inquiries: 604.660.2468

Maria Littlejohn, Court Scheduler: 604.660.2865

Matthew Soo, Chambers Scheduler: 604.660.2859

Kristine Dhamrait, Registrar Scheduler: 604.660.2729

Fax filings: 604.660.1951

Mail or Courier to the Vancouver Registry (check here to see if the Registry is open or closed during regular hours)

If the Registry Counter is open:
BC Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
400 – 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2C5
If the Registry Counter is closed due to COVID-19:
BC Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
206 - 800 Smithe Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2E1

Dated 9 April 2021 at Vancouver, British Columbia,
By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia

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This Notice applies to civil and criminal appeals and replaces all previous Notices to the Public Regarding the Court of Appeal for British Columbia’s Response to COVID-19.

1. New Appeals and Applications for Leave to Appeal
  • The required time periods to file and serve civil or family proceedings stopped running on 26 March 2020 and were reinstated on 25 March 2021. For further details review Ministerial Order No. M098 and Order in Council 655/2020.
  • This means that, beginning 26 March 2021 you had the same amount of time to file and serve a notice of appeal or application for leave to appeal in civil or family proceedings as you were entitled to on 26 March 2020. If the decision you are appealing falls between 26 March 2020 and 26 March 2021, you have until 26 April 2021 to file your appeal.
  • The required time periods to file and serve notices of appeal or applications for leave to appeal in criminal matters have not changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. Filing and Service Deadlines
  • The filing and service deadlines for all existing appeals, existing applications for leave to appeal, and other existing matters before the Court were suspended by direction of the Chief Justice from 18 March 2020 until 14 September 2020. The Chief Justice also suspended operation of s. 25 of the Court of Appeal Act during this period, meaning that matters were not placed on the inactive list or dismissed as abandoned.
  • Beginning on 14 September 2020 litigants or counsel had the same amount of time to file and serve materials that they were entitled to on 18 March 2020.
  • Timelines for taking a step required by court order or direction have not changed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. How to File Documents and Materials 
4. Access to Hearings
5. Appeal Hearing 

Online booking of hearings

  • Once a certificate of readiness has been filed the appellant should request a date for the appeal using the online portal on the Court of Appeal Scheduling Page. The appellant may request a maximum of one day of hearing time using this service. A half day of hearing time is common for most appeals from chambers. One day of hearing time is common for many appeals from trials. If the parties believe more than one day of hearing time is required they should telephone the court scheduler at 604-660-2865 to seek directions. The Registrar will review all requests for more than one day of hearing time.

Video conference hearings 

  • On 9 November 2020 the Chief Justice of British Columbia directed that all appeals proceed by video conference unless otherwise directed. This direction was made in response to BC public health orders aimed at minimizing travel and social contact and encouraging people to work from home where possible. Parties may also consent to have their appeal conducted solely in writing by submitting a request to the Registrar indicating their consent.
  • Directions on videoconference hearings and Court etiquette are provided in this Notice to the Public regarding video conference proceedings.

Hearings in a Courtroom (very rarely and ONLY by direction of the Chief Justice)

  • The Court has made adjustments to the physical facilities at the courthouse to ensure that hearings will comply with public safety guidelines. At this time, any hearings in a courtroom will take place in courtrooms 50 or 60 with a maximum of four lawyers or self-represented litigants attending at one time. Parties should be aware that because of social distancing guidelines, usually no more than seven observers may be accommodated in the courtroom.
  • Counsel/litigant(s) are asked to advise the registry immediately if unexpected circumstances related to the COVID-19 virus arise prior to the hearing, such that a counsel/litigant prefers to switch to a video conference hearing. No reason need be provided to the Registry and the Court will endeavor to accommodate such a switch. A request for such accommodation should be made as early as possible but may be made right up until the morning of the hearing. Counsel/litigants must bring their own water supply and present their arguments from their own table (individual lecterns will be provided). Furniture will be cleaned and disinfected between hearings.

Facemasks

  • People attending courthouses in British Columbia are required to wear a face mask or face covering, including in entrances, lobbies, waiting areas, registries, hallways, stairways, restrooms and elevators. In addition, people are required to wear a face mask or face covering in courtrooms unless the presiding judge, justice, master or registrar directs otherwise.

Pursuant to Ministerial Order No. M425:

  • Face masks and face coverings must be worn in a manner that cover a person’s nose and mouth. If you do not have a face mask or face covering, Sheriffs will provide one when you enter the courthouse. While wearing a face mask or face covering can reduce the spread of infection, it does not substitute for physical distancing, which must be maintained whenever possible.
  • The requirement to wear a face mask or face covering does not apply:
    • to a child who is less than twelve years of age,
    • to a person who is unable to wear a face mask or face covering because of (i) a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or (ii) a physical, cognitive or mental impairment,
    • to a person who is unable to put on or remove a face mask or face covering without the assistance of another person,
    • if the face mask or face covering is removed temporarily for the purpose of identifying the person wearing it.
  • In addition, all people attending courthouses in British Columbia are asked to be familiar with all health and safety protocols and to cooperate in following them.
6. Chambers Hearings
  • All chambers applications will proceed by teleconference unless otherwise directed. Some longer hearings may proceed via videoconference using the Zoom platform. If a Zoom hearing is directed, parties must follow the Notice to the Public regarding video conference proceedings.
  • Counsel/litigants must file and serve materials according to the timelines required under the Court of Appeal Act, Court of Appeal Rules, Criminal Code, the Court of Appeal Criminal Rules and the Court’s Civil and Criminal Practice Directives. Chambers applications may also proceed in writing by approval of the Court on consent request addressed to the Registrar.

The Court’s capacity to hear a full chambers list may remain compromised. As such:

  • Counsel/litigants should coordinate with one another before filing a chambers application and should be prepared to meet all subsequent filing and service deadlines set out in the Court of Appeal Act and Rules.
  • Counsel/litigants must check the online list of available dates before filing a chambers application in accordance with Booking Civil Chambers Applications (Civil Practice Note, 8 May 2017), and should check again just before e-filing.
  • Counsel/litigants should be patient with the occasional need to re-book chambers applications to other dates, given expected demands. The chambers scheduler, as a Deputy Registrar, has the final say on the reassignment of dates, if necessary (no appeals to the Registrar).
  • Chambers materials received late will be marked “received not filed” and should be addressed at the hearing of the chambers application.
7. Hearings before the Registrar

All hearings set to proceed before the Registrar will proceed by Zoom, teleconference, in writing, or as directed by the Registrar. Counsel/litigants may also request or consent to an appointment being heard in writing only.

8. Self-Represented Litigants

Self-represented litigants are expected to comply with the modified processes set out in this notice.

Access Pro-Bono has a dedicated appeals program. If you require assistance contact Heather Wojcik, Court of Appeal Intake Coordinator, at 604-424-8286. You can also visit accessprobono.ca or call 604- 878-7400 or 1-877-762-6664 to find out more information about Access Pro-Bono emergency telephone clinics that have been set up in response to COVID-19. Additionally, anyone e-filing materials in the Court of Appeal or preparing to appear before the Court by Zoom video conference may contact the Canadian Bar Association BC Branch at members@cbabc.org for technical support with managing PDF Adobe or Zoom video conference software.

9. Registry Contact Information

General Inquiries: 604.660.2468
Maria Littlejohn, Court Scheduler: 604.660.2865
Manjit Gunglay, Chambers Scheduler: 604.660.2859
Kristine Dhamrait, Registrar Scheduler: 604.660.2729
Fax filings: 604.660.1951

Mail or Courier: Vancouver Registry

The Registry Counter will be open unless required to close in response to COVID-19 circumstances. Before attending at the Registry Counter, please check HERE to confirm whether it is open or closed.

If the Registry Counter is open:

BC Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
400 – 800 Hornby Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2C5

If the Registry Counter is closed:

BC Court of Appeal
The Law Courts
206 - 800 Smithe Street
Vancouver, British Columbia V6Z 2E1

The forgoing is subject to change. Any updates will be posted on the BCCourts.ca website.

Dated 9 April 2021, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Robert J. Bauman, Chief Justice of British Columbia

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This Notice replaces all previous Notices to the Public Regarding Access to Court Proceedings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

1. Access to Video conference, in Courtroom, or Teleconference Proceedings
  • The Court’s weekly hearing list and chambers list are updated daily and indicate which matters are proceeding by video conference, in the courtroom or by teleconference.

Access to Video Conference Proceedings

  • Members of the public may watch most video conference hearings. To join a video conference hearing as an observer, click the public link provided on the Court’s weekly hearing list and follow the instructions to download Zoom, if necessary. The public link may not be posted on the weekly hearing list until the morning the video conference is set to proceed. In order to maintain appropriate decorum during a video conference proceeding, the judges and the people making submissions to the court will not be able to see or hear the people observing.

Access to Hearings in the Courtroom

  • On 9 November 2020 the Chief Justice of British Columbia directed that all appeals proceed by video conference unless otherwise directed.
  • In rare instances where the Chief Justice directs that the an appeal will be heard in the courtroom, any person who wishes to observe the hearing should monitor the BC Court of Appeal announcements page for any special instructions e.g. regarding overflow space or telephone access.
  • To observe matters proceeding in the courtroom, check the Court’s weekly hearing list or the bulletin board in the lobby at 800 Smithe Street. The lists will indicate the name of the proceeding, the mode of hearing and, if applicable, the courtroom number.
  • The Court has made adjustments to the physical facilities in the courtrooms to ensure hearings will comply with public safety guidelines. Anyone wishing to observe a hearing in a courtroom should be aware that because of social distancing guidelines, usually no more than seven observers may be accommodated at one time.
  • People attending courthouses in British Columbia are required to wear a face mask or face covering in all public spaces, including in courtrooms unless the presiding judge, justice, master or registrar directs otherwise. For more information see section 5 of the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures Due to COVID-19 and Ministerial Order No. M425.

Access to Teleconference Proceedings

  • To observe matters proceeding by teleconference submit a Request to Attend Teleconference Proceedings no later than 12 noon the day before the hearing date. Late requests cannot be processed in time to respond with the dial-in information you will need.
  • Note that counsel are permitted to share connection details with their co-counsel and clients if they will be listening from separate phones, however, connection details should not be shared with anyone else. Counsel are asked to inform the registry if they require connections for more than 10 separate telephones.

Policy on use of electronic devices in courtrooms

  • The Court's Policy on the use of electronic devices in courtrooms applies to all court proceedings including those conducted remotely by video or teleconference. This means that members of accredited media may audio record proceedings for the limited purpose of verifying their notes. Any other audio or video recording of the proceeding including screen shots or other photographs is prohibited. Anyone who uses an electronic device in a manner prohibited by the policy is subject to sanction, including prosecution for contempt of court.
2. Media Participation in Court Proceedings

In any appeals where the media wishes to make submissions, such as where a publication ban is opposed or challenged, accommodations for participation will be arranged in the same manner as for other parties, detailed in the Notice Regarding Modified Court of Appeal Procedures due to COVID-19.

3. Media Access to Digital Audio Recordings (DARS)
  • Any requests for access to court audio recordings (post-hearing) by accredited media should be made by completing the usual access to audio request form and attaching a remote access to DARS undertaking to the automatically generated email before submitting the request. Requests will be processed by Court Services Branch personnel in the usual manner. If access is granted the requestor will receive an email confirmation and a link to a digital FTP site to remotely access the requested audio recording.
4. Access to Court Records
  • The Court will continue processing requests for access to the court record in the usual manner as prescribed under the Court of Appeal’s Record and Courtroom Access Policy.

Dated 9 April 2021, at Vancouver, British Columbia
By Direction of Robert J. Bauman
Chief Justice of British Columbia

Supreme Court of BC
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COVID-19 Notice No. 42

Revised: April 12, 2021 with respect to:

  • telephone contact information,
  • additions to application records (authorities and written arguments),
  • retention, destruction, and pick up of application records, and
  • locations where Masters chambers are proceeding by video, and
  • locations where long chambers are proceeding by video

Download a PDF of this Notice


Effective April 19, 2021, COVID-19 Notice No. 42 has been revised to expand the number of registries where Masters chambers are heard by video using Microsoft Teams and to add long chambers matters in Vancouver and New Westminster to the list of matters that will be heard by video using Microsoft Teams. Other locations will be added as they become available.

Effective immediately, the following changes also apply:

  • If applicants intend to rely on authorities or written arguments, they must be included in the application record.
  • Applicants are encouraged to retrieve their application records. Those intending to do so must notify the court clerk at their hearing and retrieve their application records within five days, unless the hearing has been adjourned and reset for within five days. Application records that are not retrieved will be securely destroyed.
  • Applicants must include telephone numbers with their application records, preferably direct lines.
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COVID-19 Notice No. 32
Revised: April 12, 2021

On March 19, 2020, the Supreme Court of British Columbia suspended regular operations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. All civil and family matters scheduled for trials, conferences, and chambers applications or other hearings between March 19 and May 29, 2020 were adjourned, unless the Court otherwise directed.

This Notice provides further directions in regard to hearings before the registrar, which will resume in accordance with the procedures set out in this Notice.

Download a PDF of this Notice

 

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COVID-19 Notice No. 41
Date: revised March 2, 2021

Highlighted changes:

  • The suspension of civil jury trials has been extended to October 7, 2022.

This notice replaces COVID-19 Notice No. 39 – Civil Jury Selections and Trials.

I. Introduction

Effective March 19, 2020, Chief Justice Hinkson suspended regular operations of the Supreme Court of British Columbia at all of its locations to protect the health and safety of court users and to help contain the spread of COVID-19. As part of the suspension, the Court cancelled civil jury selections and civil jury trials up to and including January 1, 2021, everywhere in the province.

II. Civil Jury Trials Suspended up to and including October 7, 2022

Effective September 28, 2020, the Supreme Court Civil Rules were amended to temporarily suspend civil jury trials, and the operation of related rules, up to and including October 3, 2021. For more details about the changes, please see Order-in Council No. 517/2020, available here. On March 2, 2021, the suspension of civil jury trials was extended up to and including October 7, 2022. For more details about the extension please see Order-in-Council No. 105/2021, available here.

The new rules provide that trials scheduled to be heard before October 8, 2022 will automatically proceed by judge alone, regardless of whether a party filed or served a notice requiring trial by jury or paid jury fees.

The new rules also provide that, unless the Court otherwise orders, a party must not apply for an adjournment of a trial because the party may want to require that the trial be heard by the Court with a jury.

Notices requiring trial by jury will not be accepted for filing for trials scheduled to take place before October 8, 2022.

III. Civil Jury Trials Scheduled on or after October 8, 2022

Civil jury trials will resume on October 8, 2022.

Under subrule 12-6(0.3), on or after March 29, 2021, a party may require a jury trial for a trial that is scheduled to take place on or after October 8, 2022 by doing the following:

  • within 21 days after service of the notice of trial but at least 45 days before the trial, file a notice requiring trial by jury (Form 47) and serve a copy of the filed notice on all parties of record; and
  • at least 45 days before trial, pay jury fees to the sheriff.

Under subrule 12-6(0.4), on or after March 29, 2021, if a party files a notice under subrule 12-6(0.3)(a), a party on whom the notice has been served may make an application under subrule 12-6(5) for an order that the trial or part of it be heard by the Court without a jury.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated March 2, 2021, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

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COVID-19 Notice No. 27
Date: Revised November 6, 2020

Highlighted changes:

  • Part IV has been revised to update the guidance about wearing face masks in courthouses.

Judge alone trials have been taking place in all court locations since early June, and criminal jury trials resumed in most court locations in September.

The Provincial Government has retained the services of a private consultant to assist in identifying the necessary steps to modify courtrooms and courthouses to mitigate the risk of transmission of the virus. Please refer to the Ministry of Attorney General’s information about COVID-19 Court Recovery Operations summarizing the steps taken to ensure everyone’s safety in courthouses and courtrooms, including the steps they are taking regarding the screening process for people entering courthouses, cleaning protocols, and physical distancing protocols inside the courthouse.

Certain general precautions will apply to all in person court hearings, appearances and trials. Judges, masters and registrars have the discretion to direct more detailed precautions depending on the circumstances of a particular court hearing. These measures are subject to change without notice as the Court receives further guidance and direction from public health authorities.

I. Trial Management Conferences, Pre-Trial Conferences and Other Pre-hearing Conferences

Counsel and self-represented parties at a trial management conference (“TMC”), a criminal pre-trial conference (“PTC”) or any other type of pre-hearing conference are expected to confirm that the trial or hearing can proceed in accordance with the precautions and restrictions set out below and to advise the presiding judge or master of any problems these measures may present. Any such problems should be addressed in advance of the trial or hearing. Counsel and self-represented parties will also need to address any additional concerns that may apply in the specific circumstances of their trial or hearing.

For civil or family trials, if counsel or self-represented parties are unprepared, the presiding judge or master may adjourn the trial and award costs against the unprepared party or litigant.

II. Addressing instances of symptomatic participants

Counsel and self represented parties must be in a position to confirm at the TMC, PTC, or other conference, at the opening of trial, and at the start of each day of the trial or at the start of any other in court appearance that to their knowledge, no one involved on their side (including counsel, the party, the accused or witnesses) has any symptoms of illness that maybe related to COVID-19. As of the date of this Notice, the BC Centre for Disease Control website advises that the symptoms of COVID-19 can include the following:

  1. fever
  2. chills
  3. coughor worsening of chronic cough
  4. shortness of breath
  5. sore throat
  6. runny nose
  7. loss of sense of smell or taste
  8. headache
  9. muscle aches
  10. fatigue
  11. loss of appetite
  12. nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

While less common, symptoms can also include stuffy nose, conjunctivitis (pink eye), dizziness, confusion, abdominal pain, skin rashes or discoloration of fingers or toes.

Counsel and self represented parties must also be in a position to confirm that to their knowledge, no one involved on their side traveled outside Canada within 14 days of their anticipated in person appearance in a courtroom.

If an individual who is or was in court starts experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, they should complete the BC Centre for Disease Control’s self-assessment tool, call 811, and/or contact their primary care provider for personal medical advice and follow any directions provided. If the medical advice or public health directions that individual receives could impact an ongoing or upcoming court appearance, counsel or self represented parties should contact Supreme Court Scheduling.

III. Witnesses

Prior to the TMC, PTC or other pre-hearing conference, counsel or parties must determine if any potential witness is reluctant to attend court due to health-related concerns or for other reasons related to the public health emergency. The court is unlikely to require the witness to attend in such circumstances, and the TMC, PTC or other pre-hearing conference will address the question of whether the witness can give evidence by other means, such as by affidavit or testimony by telephone or videoconferencing, etc.

IV. Face Masks

People are strongly encouraged to wear face masks when attending courthouses including in entrances, waiting areas, registries, hallways, stairways, restrooms and elevators. If you do not have a face mask, Sheriffs will provide one when you enter the courthouse. Children under two years of age, persons with a medical condition or disability that inhibits wearing a face mask and persons who are unable to place or remove a face mask without assistance are exempt.

Inside individual courtrooms, the presiding judge, master or registrar may modify this recommendation, for example, in order for the participant’s evidence or submissions to be heard and understood. Any concerns on the part of counsel, parties or witnesses regarding the use of masks in the courtroom should be raised for discussion at the TMC, PTC or other pre-hearing conference or with the presiding judge, master or registrar at the earliest opportunity.

V. Oaths or Affirmations

If a witness wishes to give evidence under oath rather than by affirmation, they must bring a Bible or other religious book or sacred object to court. There will be no Bibles or other religious books available in the courtroom.

VI. In Custody Accused Persons

Crown and defence counsel should be familiar with the current policy of BC Corrections concerning the attendance of detained accused persons in court and be prepared to discuss the considerations raised by the policy at the PTC.

VII. Exhibits, Documents, and Authorities

Counsel and self-represented parties must make every effort to limit documentary evidence and case authorities to those that are truly necessary. The court has always discouraged the practice of filing binders of documents as exhibits that counsel may not refer to or that are not entered into evidence; that practice is particularly discouraged in the current circumstances. For briefs of authorities, counsel should include only those cases to which they need to, and will, refer.

Civil and family hearings and trials

Counsel and self-represented parties should deliver copies of documents that they intend to enter as exhibits or rely on in cross-examination to other counsel/parties in advance, rather than simply passing them out in the courtroom. The same applies to common books of documents, written submissions, and briefs of authorities.

Criminal trials and extradition hearings

Crown counsel should deliver copies of documents that they intend to enter as exhibits to defence counsel in advance of the trial or extradition hearing, rather than simply passing them out in the courtroom. Defence counsel are encouraged to do so as well, if this will not impair the conduct of the defence case.

Movement of documents and exhibits in the courtroom where unavoidable

Where the passing of copies of documents or physical exhibits to others in the courtroom is unavoidable, counsel and self-represented parties must sanitize their hands before and after handling the documents. In addition to hand sanitizer, there will be a supply of gloves in the courtroom for anyone who wishes to use them, as well as instructions for the safe use, removal, and disposal of gloves.

In order to maintain a safe physical distance between counsel, the court clerk, and the witness, documents and exhibits should be placed on the document table before the court clerk and the judge enter the courtroom. Where this is not possible or appropriate, at the time a document or exhibit is to be handed up, counsel or self-represented parties must place it on the document table and then return to counsel table at which point the court clerk will pick it up and hand it to the judge, master, registrar or witness.

VIII. Cleaning and Sanitation

The courtroom will be cleaned after each matter and at the end of each court day, including the witness box, accused box, counsel tables, court clerk desk, the judicial bench, public seating areas, and all other areas of the courtroom where people sit.

A courtroom attendant will wipe down the witness box, including the microphone, horizontal surfaces of the stand, armrests, and handrails after each witness finishes their testimony and at the end of each court day.

In order to facilitate the cleaning of counsel tables, the court requests that counsel who are appearing over multiple days on a particular matter remove their materials from the courtroom each night. If this is not possible or practical (e.g., because of the volume of materials), counsel should pack up their materials into boxes and store them underneath the counsel table.

For more information and details about cleaning protocols, please refer to the Ministry of Attorney General’s information about COVID-19 Court Recovery Operations.

IX. Courtroom Layout

The physical layout of the courtroom, including the position of counsel, the court clerk and the witness may be altered to maintain a safe physical distance between all participants. The ability to move within a particular courtroom, such as by approaching a witness, maybe restricted for physical distancing purposes.

Communication between counsel and parties

Counsel must consider how they intend to confer with co-counsel and their clients in the courtroom while maintaining a safe physical distance.

Civil and family trials

Counsel should give notice at the TMC of an intention to seek leave of the trial judge to communicate with co-counsel or their client by text message or another method that would not normally be acceptable in court.

Criminal trials and extradition hearings

At the commencement of the trial or extradition hearing, defence counsel should be prepared to discuss with the trial judge the means by which they and their accused clients will communicate and confer with each other inside and outside the courtroom. There may be additional considerations where the accused is in custody.

Water

There will be no water jugs available in the courtroom during the court hearing. Counsel, parties and witnesses are permitted in bring their own water in clear plastic bottles that are no larger than 1 litre in volume. Sheriffs will provide water for an in-custody accused person.

Public and media

In order to maintain a safe physical distance in the public gallery between members of the media and public, the number of seats available will be reduced. If counsel or a party is aware of anyone who intends to observe all or part of the court hearing, they should advise those individuals that while the court remains open to the public, seating is limited, and entry into the courtroom will not be permitted once the room capacity is reached.

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE. ANY UPDATED DIRECTIONS WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

Dated 6 November 2020, at Vancouver, British Columbia

By Direction of Chief Justice Christopher E. Hinkson
Supreme Court of British Columbia

Provincial Court of BC
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Effective Date: 19 April 2021 (unless otherwise stated in this Notice)
NP 19 Revisions in red

NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION AND PUBLIC

COURT OPERATIONS DURING COVID-19​

The Provincial Court of British Columbia recognizes that the Province is still impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Chief Public Health Officers of Canada and the Province still require people to keep a safe distance from each other, but currently there can be a cautious reopening of public places with health and safety protocols in place to minimize the transmission of the virus. Taking this into account, the Provincial Court has resumed court operations as described in this Notice (NP 19). This version of NP 19 has been substantially revised to reflect current court operations only and remove historical information. Archived versions of NP 19 are available here. The directions in this Notice are subject to change as circumstances of the pandemic change. Anyone appearing for an in person hearing must be in full compliance with all of the Provincial Health Officer’s Orders or directions regarding COVID-19 and Notice to the Profession and Public 22: Resuming In-Person Proceedings During COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols. For virtual proceedings, see NP 21 Guide to Virtual Proceedings.

Download this Notice to the Profession and Public.

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Effective Date: 10 March 2021
NP 21

NOTICE TO THE PROFESSION AND PUBLIC
GUIDE TO REMOTE PROCEEDINGS

Purpose

In light of the extraordinary circumstances during the current public health emergency, and as described in Notice to the Profession and Public 19,some court proceedings will be held virtually by audioconference or videoconference until further notice, unless otherwise ordered by a judge. Although the court proceeding is taking place virtually and judges,parties, lawyers, and court staff may attend by audioconference or videoconference, it remains a formal setting.

This Notice provides information for anyone who will appear before the Provincial Court for a virtual proceeding or observe a virtual hearinguntil further notice. In this Notice, the term “virtualproceeding” means a hearing or case conference conducted by audioconference (including telephone or Microsoft Teams) or videoconference (including Microsoft Teams).

A step-by-step guide to appearing in a Microsoft Teams audioconference or videoconference proceeding is attached as Appendix “A”. It contains detailed information about connecting to and managing a Microsoft Teams audioconferenceor videoconference. Review the guide carefully before your matter proceeds.

Download a PDF of this Notice

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Effective Date: 16 February 2021
NP 22  Revisions in red

Purpose

As described in Notice to the Profession and Public 19, the Provincial Court is hearing proceedings virtually and in person throughout the Province. The Court remains mindful of the need to protect the health and safety of all court users and help contain the spread of COVID-19, while maintaining access to the Court. This Notice outlines the health and safety protocols that are in place in the courtrooms. It is subject to amendment if there are changes in the COVID-19 situation in British Columbia. Judges, Judicial Justices, and Judicial Case Managers (“Judicial Officers”) have the discretion to direct more detailed precautions depending on the circumstances of a particular court proceeding.

 

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Effective date: 02 February 2021
CRIM 13

PRACTICE DIRECTION

INITIAL APPEARANCE COURT DURING COVID-19

Purpose

Further to Notice to the Profession and Public 19, the Provincial Court has resumed initial appearance court (IAR) for criminal matters. At the same time, the Court remains mindful of the need to protect the health and safety of all court users and help contain the spread of COVID19, while maintaining meaningful access to the Court. The purpose of this Practice Direction is to set out some guidelines to govern IAR while ensuring that people only come to IAR in-person when necessary.

Directions

A. Alternatives to in-person appearance

1. To reduce the number of people attending court, counsel attendance at court should be limited to appearing on a matter scheduled in court where something substantive is happening. Counsel must endeavor to avoid unnecessary personal attendances of the accused or counsel at the courthouse wherever possible.

2. The Consent Arraignment form (Form 4) may be used as an alternative to a personal appearance for adult criminal matters for entering not guilty pleas, elections, as well as for setting dates for preliminary inquiries, trials, hearings and/or pre-trial conference (see CRIM 12 Practice Direction to determine if a pre-trial conference is required).

3. If the only purpose is to adjourn a matter to another date, neither counsel nor their client should attend court. The Consent Requisition form (Form 1) may be used to: change an appearance date; cancel an interim appearance; request an earlier appearance; indicate a guilty plea; set a date for sentencing; schedule an application before a judge; or cancel trial date(s) and schedule a disposition hearing (but not adjourning a trial).

To email any of these forms to the Court, please see the email contact information for the applicable local JCM Office here or as noted on the forms.

4. See CPD-1 and CRIM 08 for further information about these forms.

B. In Person Appearances

1. For those cases where in-person appearances are necessary, the following processes will apply.

2. Legal Aid:

  • Legal Aid BC (Legal Aid) intake workers will not be present at courthouses.
  • Where Legal Aid duty counsel is present at courthouses they will assist the accused. Assistance may include:
    1. describing the process;
    2. assisting the accused to connect with a lawyer;
    3. collecting contact information that will allow the lawyer and accused to connect; and,
    4. assisting to have the accused adjourned to another date.
  • The process by which the accused will be adjourned will depend on procedures determined at the applicable local court location.
  • It is not expected that files will be resolved on these appearances.

3. Duty counsel will not provide legal representation where counsel has already been retained, whether privately or through Legal Aid, unless specifically requested to do so by counsel and/or the accused.

4. At the accused’s first court appearance, an abbreviated disclosure package may be available at locations where Crown counsel are appearing in person. Full disclosure will subsequently be available electronically upon request to Crown counsel by counsel for the accused. Self-represented litigants will be requested to contact local Crown counsel offices by email or telephone to schedule the pickup of paper disclosure packages.

5. If the matter needs to be adjourned, it will generally be adjourned for at least six to eight weeks so that by the next court date, the accused is in a position to do something substantive such as fix a date for a trial or pre-trial conference or resolve the file.

6. Defence counsel, upon accepting a Legal Aid contract, must advise the Crown counsel office responsible for the prosecution that they are representing the accused. Defence counsel are encouraged to do so in writing.

7. Counsel must communicate with each other before any court appearance so that the appearance will result in something substantive happening. If not, counsel must adjourn the matter to another date without the parties having to attend court.

8. Court appearances are not required to obtain disclosure.

History of Practice Direction

  • Original Practice Direction effective June 12, 2020.
  • October 1, 2020: Housekeeping changes – reference to “more than half a day” revised to “more than one day” further to the revised CRIM 12 Practice Direction.
  • October 7, 2020 revised to delete historical information that was in the “Application” section.
  • February 2, 2021 deleted “Pre-trial conferences” section as CRIM 12 Practice Direction is now linked; consequential amendment to para. A3 further to revised CPD-1 Practice Direction; and housekeeping changes.

I make this practice direction pursuant to my authority under the Provincial Court Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 379.

Melissa Gillespie
Chief Judge
Provincial Court of British Columbia

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Effective date: 01 February 2021
CRIM 12

PRACTICE DIRECTION

CRIMINAL PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCES DURING COVID-19

Background

In R. v. Jordan, 2016 SCC 27, the Supreme Court of Canada told all participants in the criminal justice system they have “a role to play in changing courtroom culture and facilitating a more efficient criminal justice system” (at para. 45). Participants were directed to engage in “proactive, preventative problem solving” (supra, at para. 112) and encouraged to “eliminate or avoid inefficient practices” (supra, at para. 117).

Since these directions in Jordan, over three quarters of all criminal files set for trial in Provincial Court collapsed on the scheduled trial date because of guilty pleas, stays of proceedings, bench warrants or adjournments. In this same timeframe, only 4% of all criminal files actually proceeded to a hearing in the Provincial Court. These statistics reveal that too many criminal files are set for trial and do not proceed causing significant scheduling difficulties and inefficient use of court time.

These concerns are amplified in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Provincial Court is implementing this practice direction to help address these concerns by mandating pre-trial conferences for criminal files (adult and youth) at all Provincial Court locations in the Province. This practice direction also represents one of the steps the Court is taking to resume court operations during the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring public health continues to be protected.

Purpose

There are two main purposes behind these pre-trial conferences. The first is to reduce the number of files being set for trial by helping to ensure that only those requiring a trial are actually set for hearing. The second purpose is to manage those files that are to be set for trial to ensure that accurate time estimates have been determined prior to dates being set and ensure hearings complete on time as scheduled.

The practice direction’s overarching aim is to reduce these inefficiencies in the criminal justice system by employing pre-trial conferences as a tool for the participants to collaborate and conduct cases more efficiently for the overall benefit of the administration of justice. The Court is committed to ensuring the fair, efficient and timely resolution of criminal files and to upholding the accused’s right to be tried within a reasonable time. Using pre-trial conferences to help reduce day of trial collapse rates and trial continuations is an important part of that commitment.

Application

Effective February 1, 2021, this practice directive applies to adult and youth criminal files in the Provincial Court requiring trial or preliminary inquiry time (“trial time”) as follows:

Court File – Region Trial Time
Fraser
Interior
Vancouver
  1. Requiring 3 days or more of trial time; or
  2. Requiring at least 1 day but less than 3 days of trial time, where a pre-trial conference is requested by both counsel
Northern
Vancouver Island
  1. Requiring 2 days or more of trial time; or
  2. Requiring at least 1 day but less than 2 days of trial time, where a pre-trial conference is requested by both counsel

All files as set out above must have a pre-trial conference before being scheduled for a trial or preliminary inquiry. Where the accused has more than one criminal file with at least one file as described above, their other file(s) may be included in the pre-trial conference for resolution discussions. Counsel should provide these additional file numbers to the Judicial Case Manager when scheduling the pre-trial conference.

This practice direction only applies to files where the accused is represented by counsel. Selfrepresented accused with trials requiring one day or more of trial time will have a pre-trial conference set before a judge, preferably the trial judge, approximately 8 to 10 weeks before the first date of trial for trial management purposes as described in NP 19.

Directions

A. General

  1. The pre-trial conference judge will not be the trial judge if the matter proceeds to trial. If the matter is resolved prior to trial, the disposition may be done by the pre-trial conference judge or assigned to another judge. Where multiple pre-trial conferences occur on a file, the pre-trial conferences will be conducted by the same judge unless that judge is unavailable.
  2. Pre-trial conferences will take place during court sitting hours unless reasonable accommodation of counsel’s schedule is required. Pre-trial conferences will be set in 30 to 45 minute intervals, although counsel may request additional time if they feel it will be required.
  3. Unless otherwise ordered by the pre-trial conference judge, pre-trial conferences will be held via videoconference or audioconference and off the record.
  4. Crown counsel with conduct of the file1 (“Crown counsel”) and counsel for the accused must attend all pre-trial conferences, unless the pre-trial conference judge directs otherwise.

B. Before the pre-trial conference

  1. Before a pre-trial conference, Crown counsel and counsel for the accused must have:
    1. Thoroughly reviewed their files, and
    2. Discussed with each other the issues set out in paragraph 8.
  2. The parties may provide, and are encouraged to provide, the opposite party and the pre-trial conference judge with any materials that may assist with resolution discussions and trial management issues. Unless the parties agree otherwise, these materials are to be used only for pre-trial conference purposes; these materials will not be added to the court file and will be returned to the submitting party if requested or destroyed when no longer necessary for those purposes. At a minimum, Crown counsel must provide a Crown Synopsis in Form 1 (CRIM 12), a copy of the Information Crown counsel is proceeding on, and any criminal record of the accused. At least three business days prior to a scheduled pre-trial conference, the parties must exchange copies of all materials for the pre-trial conference and must deliver, electronically or otherwise, a copy of those materials to the Judicial Case Manager at the applicable court location for the attention of the pre-trial conference judge.
  3. If Crown counsel or counsel for the accused requests a preliminary inquiry, that party shall file a Statement of Issues and Witnesses in Form 2 (CRIM 12) unless otherwise ordered by the Court. The statement is to be filed with the Court preferably at the arraignment hearing.

C. At the pre-trial conference

  1. At a pre-trial conference, the parties are required to have authority and be prepared to make decisions about:
    1. resolution of the matter;
    2. disclosure;
    3. applications, including ones pursuant to the Charter, that the parties will bring at or before trial;
    4. the number and identity of witnesses the Crown counsel intends to call at the preliminary inquiry or at trial;
    5. any admissions the parties are willing to make;
    6. any legal issues that the parties anticipate may arise in the proceeding; and
    7. an estimate of the time needed to complete the proceeding.

      Parties should review the Pre-Trial Conference Checklist for the types of issues that may be discussed at the pre-trial conference.
      Commentary: In order to ensure they are able to make decisions on these issues, counsel for the accused must have communicated with their client to obtain instructions. For Crown counsel, they must have communicated with any civilian witnesses essential to the viability of the prosecution (for example, sex assault complainants) in order to assess their reliability and level of interest in the matter as well as obtain any resolution input where that may be appropriate.

      The pre-trial conference judge will proactively canvass resolution in order to avoid setting trial dates. If the accused or their counsel require some time before proceeding to disposition, they should not be setting trial dates to obtain that time but rather pleading guilty and obtaining that time by adjourning the disposition. For Crown counsel, they need to be reasonable and realistic in their sentencing positions and exercise “enhanced discretion for resolving individual cases” (Jordan, para. 138). The pre-trial conference judge will also proactively canvass the issues to reduce them to only those requiring adjudication, and then determining both how much time will be required and how the file is to be scheduled. The intention is to ensure that those files that actually proceed to trial complete as scheduled thereby avoiding continuation dates that generate further delays in completing criminal proceedings.

D. After the pre-trial conference

  1. After hearing from the parties during a pre-trial conference, the pre-trial conference judge may take one or more of the following steps:
    1. make any case management directions or orders;
    2. confirm or amend the estimates of the time required to hear the proceeding;
    3. set timelines for the exchange of materials on applications to be heard, or for the completion of disclosure;
    4. set parameters for the hearing of applications;
    5. confirm any admissions made on the record and have all parties sign off on the admissions in writing;
    6. adjourn to the Judicial Case Manager to set a date for:
      1. a subsequent pre-trial conference;
      2. disposition;
      3. preliminary inquiry; or
      4. trial.
    7. take any further steps or provide any further directions consistent with the purpose of this Practice Direction.
  2. Following the conclusion of a pre-trial conference, any directions or orders made by the pre-trial conference judge may be reduced to writing or otherwise recorded.
  3. If the matter is confirmed or set for hearing, a pre-trial conference will be set prior to the first date of hearing to ensure the matter will still be proceeding on the scheduled dates. If following this pre-trial conference, the file remains set for hearing, the pre-trial conference judge will then complete a Pre-Trial Conference Record, including any agreements or admissions, and have it placed in the court file.

    Commentary: The parties can again expect the pre-trial conference judge to proactively pursue resolution and trial manage the file at this pre-trial conference. The Pre-Trial Conference Record will record any admissions, trial scheduling directions, witness issues and other details the trial judge needs to know for conducting the trial.
  4. If following a pre-trial conference, the matter is confirmed or scheduled for trial or preliminary inquiry, the pre-trial conference judge may complete a Pre-Trial Conference Report and have it placed in the court file. The Pre-Trial Conference Report will provide information the trial judge needs to know for conducting the trial, including any admissions, agreements, orders or trial scheduling directions made, and any issues that are expected to arise. If counsel wish to receive a copy of this Report, they can obtain it from the court file at the originating registry or they can request it be sent to them electronically by providing their e-mail addresses to the pre-trial conference judge at the pre-trial conference.

History of Practice Direction

  • Original practice direction dated April 28, 2020.
  • See also NP 19 COVID-19: Commencing Recovery of Some Court Operations.
  • The Supreme Court of British Columbia has issued CPD-3, Criminal Practice Direction.
  • Updated practice direction dated June 12, 2020 revising “Application” section and changing reference in para. A2 from “one hour” to “30 to 45 minute”. • Updated practice direction dated July 2, 2020 revising “Application” section.
  • Updated practice direction effective September 28, 2020 (revises “Application” section and makes consequential amendments; deletes Pre-Trial Conference Record and adds Pre-Trial Conference Checklist and Report); adds para. 12.
  • Updated practice direction effective February 1, 2021 (revises “Application” section).

I make this practice direction pursuant to my authority under the Provincial Court Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 379 and Rule 3 of the Provincial Court of British Columbia Criminal Caseflow Management Rules, SI/99-104.

Melissa Gillespie
Chief Judge
Provincial Court of British Columbia

1 For the purpose of this Practice Direction, “Crown counsel with conduct of the file” may include the applicable “Intake Crown” until the “Trial Crown” is assigned.

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In light of concerns raised by the BC Courts, counsel and other courthouse users about the need for timely and coordinated communication about COVID-19 testing and exposures in courthouses, the three levels of Court and Court Services Branch met with senior health officials and have created a Protocol that is now in effect with these main components:

  1. A Public Health Guidance document for courthouses that is publicly posted here.
  2. The BC Centre for Disease Control has created a webpage where the following type of information will be posted about COVID-19 and courthouses: COVID-19 exposures at courthouses where a medical health officer of public health specialist has determined there is a risk of infection to others; incident investigations, notices and summaries related to potential COVID-19 clusters, outbreaks or group testing; and, courthouse site inspections.
  3. Each Regional Health Authority will be responsible for courthouse COVID-19 incident investigations, response and timely communication with the courts, Court Services Branch and where appropriate the public, recognizing that the Health Authorities alone have the information about COVID-19 incidents, cases, exposures, clusters and outbreaks.
  4. If there is to be group testing at a courthouse, notice will be communicated by the Regional Health Authority to those court participants relevant to the investigation.
  5. Targeted access to COVID-19 testing for court participants in relation to anticipated or ongoing court proceedings where, for example, a court participant is experiencing COVID-19 like symptoms and testing is required to determine whether the court proceeding can continue as scheduled.

See the Protocol here.

We thank everyone for their ongoing efforts to support the Courts and the justice system through this extremely challenging time. The Courts are committed to remaining open and accessible, and have taken steps to ensure safety as noted on the following websites:

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Effective Date: 07 December 2020
FAM 08

PRACTICE DIRECTION

EARLY RESOLUTION PROCESS AND EXPEDITED COURT PROCESS TO CHANGE OR
SUSPEND CHILD OR SPOUSAL SUPPORT DUE TO COVID-19

Purpose & Application

The purpose of this Practice Direction is to set out the early resolution process and expedited court process that is available (but not required) for a party who is only seeking a suspension or change to an existing agreement or Provincial Court order about child support or spousal support as a result of a change in income since January 2020 that is related to COVID-19.

For all other relief (including relief for outstanding arrears prior to January 2020) or counterclaims not related to the above, parties may make an application in the normal course on July 8, 2020 when Provincial Court registries are able to accept new family filings.

This practice direction applies to all court registries in the Province. Variations in process due to the Early Resolution and Case Management Model at the Victoria and Surrey registries are noted under section 4 below.

Direction

  1. Effective July 2, 2020 until further direction, the early resolution and expedited court process set out here may be used by parties seeking a suspension or change to an existing agreement or Provincial Court order about child support or spousal support as a result of a change in income since January 2020 related to COVID-19.
  2. Early Resolution Process
    1. How to begin (Intake)
      1. Contact the Family Justice Services Division (Family Justice Services) to schedule your individual needs assessment interview at:
      1. Complete an individual needs assessment with Family Justice Services by telephone or videoconference to identify: the issue(s) that need to be resolved; and determine whether the dispute resolution process is appropriate.
        1. Parties may also receive referrals to legal advice and other community supports.
        2. .A party may be contacted by Family Justice Services if someone else completed the form and named them in the form.
      2. Complete the “Notice of Intention to Change Existing Child or Spousal Support Due to COVID-19 Income Change” form and provide a copy to Family Justice Services and all other parties as noted on the form.
    2. Participation In Dispute Resolution Process
      1. If it is determined that participation in the Dispute Resolution Process is appropriate during the intake process, the parties may participate in a process which may include: mediation with a family justice counsellor, family law mediator, a collaborative family law process, or facilitated negotiation with a child support officer.
      2. Each party must provide financial information as required by Family Justice Services or the dispute resolution professional.
      3. If the parties reach an agreement,Family Justice Services or the dispute resolution professional involved may assist the parties to draft a variation of an existing written agreement which can be filed with the court for enforcement purposes; or assist the parties to apply to the court for a consent variation of an existing court order.
      4. If the parties do not reach an agreement but at least one party has completed a needs assessment interview, the matter may proceed to the expedited court process set out below.
      5. Family Justice Services will complete the bottom of the “Notice of Intention to Change Existing Child or Spousal Support Due to COVID-19 Income Change” form to indicate that one or all of the parties have completed an individual needs assessment interview.
  3. Expediated Court Process
    1. The party must submit the following forms required for court to the Pre-court Case Management Service (PCCM) which can be reached by telephone (604-660-2528 or Toll free 1-866-660-2684) or by email at pccm@gov.bc.ca:
    2. PCCM will review to ensure documents are complete. Once completed, PCCM will file the documents with the court for the party by emailing the documents to the applicable registry.
    3. The party must serve a copy of each of the documents on all other parties to the order or agreement.
    4. The party filing a reply must submit their documents to PCCM, which can be reached by telephone (604-660-2528 or Toll free 1-866-660-2684) or by email at pccm@gov.bc.ca. PCCM will review to ensure documents are complete. Once completed, PCCM will file the documents with the court for the party by emailing the documents to the applicable registry.
      1. See the Provincial Court (Family) Rules regarding documents that need to be filed, which may include a Financial Statement.
    5. A hearing will be scheduled after a reply has been filed, or the reply period has passed and proof of service has been filed.
    6. Each party may be required to provide additional financial information as required by the court.
    7. In some situations, such as where there is corporate income, previously imputed income, or lack of adequate financial information, an Amicus (legal counsel who is not counsel for a party but who assists the court) may review the filed material and speak to it in court. Parties will be advised whether they can expect Amicus to assist the court with their matter prior to the hearing.
    8. These matters will be heard by telephone or videoconference unless a judge orders otherwise.

      Note: When applying to court to vary a child support order, the requirement to complete the Parenting After Separation Program and to file a certificate of completion with the court registry still applies for the following court locations: Abbotsford, Campbell River, Chilliwack, Courtenay, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, New Westminster, North Vancouver, Penticton, Port Coquitlam, Prince George, Richmond, Surrey, Vancouver (Robson Square) and Vernon. If you have already completed the program in the 24 months prior to filing the application, you may be exempt from this requirement. (See Provincial Court (Family) Rules, Rule 21).
  4. Victoria and Surrey Registries (only)
    Variations in process at the Victoria and Surrey registries, due to the Early Resolution and Case Management Model, are noted here.
    1. Early Resolution Process
      1. Complete and file the “Notice to Resolve a Family Law Matter” form to enter into the process (not the “Notice of Intention to Change Existing Child or Spousal Support Due to COVID-19 Income Change”form).
      2. FMEP clients must provide a copy of the “Notice to Resolve a Family Law Matter” form to their enforcement officer.
      3. Each party must meet the early resolution requirements as set out in the Provincial Court (Family) Rules Appendix B, Part 2.
    2. Expedited Court Process
      1. If, after having met the early resolution requirements, a court proceeding is required to change the support order or agreement,the party must submit the following documents to PCCM,which can be reached by telephone (604-660-2528 or Toll free 1-866-660-2684) or by email at pccm@gov.bc.ca,and serve a copy on each other party of the following documents found under “Early Resolution and Case Management Registry Forms (only in the Victoria court registry)”:
      2. FMEP clients must also provide a copy of the documents to their enforcement officer as required by the Family Maintenance Enforcement Act.

History of Practice Direction

  • Original practice direction effective July 02, 2020.
  • Revised practice direction effective December 07, 2020 (updated to add the Early Resolution and Case Management Model in Surrey). 

I make this practice direction pursuant to my authority under the Provincial Court Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 379 and Rule 20(13) of the Provincial Court (Family) Rules, B.C. Reg. 417/98.

Melissa Gillespie
Chief Judge
Provincial Court of British Columbia

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Policy Code: ACC-1

Purpose of Policy

The Court has underlined its commitment to public and media access to court proceedings in Public and Media Access Policies - The Principles of Openness. The purpose of this Policy is to clarify the circumstances and procedures under which members of the public and media have access to in person and virtual court proceedings.

Policy

Members of the public and the media are welcome to attend in person and virtual sessions of the Court. In some circumstances, either legislation requires, or a judge may order, that a proceeding, or part of a proceeding, be held in private. In those circumstances, neither the general public nor the media may be present while Court is in session.

In this Policy, the term “court proceedings” does not include case conferences. Given the private and confidential nature of case conferences, including pre-trial conferences, small claims settlement conferences, small claims trial conferences, and family case conferences, only parties and their lawyers, if they have lawyers, may attend an inperson or virtual case conference unless otherwise permitted by the presiding judge.

At this time, in person attendance at court proceedings is subject to NP 22 Resuming In-Person Proceedings During COVID-19: Health & Safety Protocols. NP 22 provides that in order to maintain a safe physical distance in the public gallery between members of the media and public, the number of seats available in courtrooms will be limited, and entry into the courtroom will not be permitted if the safe physical distancing requirements cannot be maintained.

1. Access to Virtual Hearings

1.1 In this Policy, the term “virtual hearing” refers to a court hearing conducted by audioconference (including telephone) or videoconference. Currently, all judicial interim release (bail) hearings, unless a judge or justice orders otherwise, and some criminal disposition hearings are virtual hearings, and accessible as set out below.

1.2 Members of the public and media wishing to hear or observe a virtual hearing may email the applicable Court Registry as far in advance as possible before the hearing and provide the following information about the hearing they would like to hear or observe:

1.2.1 case name,
1.2.2 case number (if known), and
1.2.3 hearing date (Daily court hearing lists are available here).

1.3 The Court Registry will provide instructions on how to join the virtual hearing.

1.4 Observation of a virtual hearing may be subject to limits on the number of participants that can be connected.

1.5 If observers do not call in at the set time or if the connection is lost, the Court will not disrupt the hearings to connect them.

1.6 The Court’s NP 21 Guide to Virtual Proceedings applies to virtual hearings and sets out virtual hearings etiquette, including:

No recording: You are not permitted to audio- or video-record any portion of a virtual hearing (except accredited media may audio-record for notetaking purposes only). Some hearings are confidential and there may be a publication ban in effect. The BC Courts’ Policy on the Use of Electronic Devices sets out penalties for recording, including prosecution.

1.7 People wishing to hear or observe a virtual hearing must read and comply with NP 21.

1.8 Accredited media should also see Notice to Accredited Media re Access to Provincial Court Proceedings during COVID-19 regarding remote access to other court proceedings.

2. Decorum when Court in Session

2.1 The judge and those participating in court proceedings need to hear clearly everything that is said, and to concentrate on the evidence and submissions. Therefore, persons observing when a Court is in session must act so as not to disturb the Court process. For example, doors to the courtroom should be closed gently if the Court is in session. Members of the public are asked to remain silent when in the Courtroom and to refrain from speaking loudly in the hallways outside of courtrooms.

2.2 If a member of the public or media must enter or exit a courtroom while Court is in session, he or she is urged to do so as quietly and with as little disruption to the proceedings as is possible.

2.3 The basic principle to be remembered is that the conduct of a trial or hearing must not be disturbed; on occasion and to protect the process, a judge may exercise his or her discretion to order that no one enter or leave the courtroom. Such an order might occur during the testimony of a particular witness, during an address by a litigant or a lawyer to the Court, or when the Court is giving a decision about a matter. If such an order has been made, the sheriff on duty will enforce it.

2.4 When listening to a virtual hearing by telephone, a landline may work best. To avoid interrupting the hearing, if using a cell phone put it in silent mode. When observing a video hearing, mute your microphone and turn off your camera.

3. Movement Beyond the Bar

3.1 No member of the media or the public is permitted beyond the Bar in a courtroom, which by convention and long-established practice is an area reserved for lawyers or self-represented litigants engaged in the presentation of a matter to the Court, unless express permission is given by the presiding Judge or Judicial Justice.

3.2 If a member of the media wishes to make an application to the presiding Judge to, for instance, comment upon a discretionary publication ban application, they may rise in the general gallery of the courtroom and ask the presiding Judge to allow them to come into the body of the Court beyond the Bar to orally make an application related to the proceeding.

4. General Guidelines for Media

4.1 Members of the media should also consult the Court’s Public and Media Access Policies, including the Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms Policy, Notice to Accredited Media re Access to Provincial Court Proceedings during COVID-19, and the Media Accreditation Process, as well as ACC-2 Access to Court Records Policy and ACC-3 Information Regarding Bans on Publication.

4.2 When attending Provincial Courthouses in British Columbia, members of the media are asked to conduct themselves with the safety and dignity of the people coming and going from the Court uppermost in their minds.

4.3 They should also be mindful of any publication bans or restrictions imposed by legislation or by the presiding judge.

4.4 These guidelines in no way interfere with the discretion of the presiding judge to resolve issues that arise in a specific trial or matter.

4.5 Whenever in courthouses, media who have sought and obtained accreditation are asked to keep their identification tags on their person at all times and produce them when so requested by a Sheriff or court official.

4.6 Accredited media possessing identification tags will have priority in areas designated for the media unless circumstances relating to issues of safety and/or security make it impossible.

4.7 Accredited members of the media should give the Sheriff or Court Clerk as much advance notice as practical when they intend to use any audio recording device in any Courthouse.

5. Cameras

5.1 As a general rule, when court is in session, the use of cameras – including television cameras and cell phone cameras – is prohibited in any Provincial Court in British Columbia. Camera operators may take cameras into courtrooms for safekeeping if they terminate the power supply. Members of the media may apply to the Court for permission to record a particular session of the Court (see below under “Televising courtroom proceedings”).

5.2 Similarly, visual recording or photographing of a courtroom when Court is not in session is not permitted without the express permission of the Chief Judge.

5.3 Filming or visual recording requests in a courthouse for educational and court related information purposes may be approved at the discretion of the Chief Judge. Photographing, videotaping and filming in the court facilities are not otherwise permitted. Exceptions to the policy may be made if the approval of the Chief Judge has been obtained in advance.

5.4 Visual recording of judges’ chambers and sheriff cells is strictly prohibited.

5.5 Taking photographs, including screenshots, of a videoconference proceeding is strictly prohibited.

6. Televising Court Proceedings

6.1 Applications may be made to a judge of the Court to televise or broadcast all or part of the proceedings in a particular case. It is the policy of the Court that such applications may be granted in the discretion of the presiding judge, provided that he or she finds that it is in the public interest that the proceedings, or part of them, be televised or broadcast, and that to do so will not:

6.1.1 affect the right of a party to a fair trial;
6.1.2 cause discomfort to any witness;
6.1.3 interfere with any privacy interests that may override the public interest in televising the proceedings;
6.1.4 have the potential effect of deterring witnesses in any future similar cases;
6.1.5 cause additional expense to the Court; or
6.1.6 otherwise potentially hamper the ongoing administration of justice in relation to Provincial Court proceedings.

6.2 The presiding judge may use the BC Supreme Court Practice Direction on Video Recording or Broadcasting of Court Proceedings as a guide in assessing the merits of an application.

6.3 The onus of establishing that these conditions are met is on the applicant. The Court may adjourn an application in order that persons whose interests are engaged may obtain legal advice or representation, if to do so is not contrary to the interests of the parties or the public interest in having the matter proceed expeditiously.

6.4 The BC Supreme Court Practice Direction on Television Coverage of Court Proceedings can be found here.

7. Computers

7.1 Members of the public and the media are permitted to use portable computers in Provincial Court provided that they do not disturb the proceedings or interfere with the operation of the court’s own electronic equipment, and that the computers (subject to item 7 below) are used solely for the purpose of note-taking.

8. Electronic Devices in Courtrooms

8.1 See also Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms Policy. This policy sets out the permitted and prohibited use of electronic devices in courtrooms of the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

9. Media Accreditation

9.1 See also Media Accreditation Process. This policy describes the process by which media personnel can become accredited with the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court and the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

10. Judges’ Reasons for Judgment

10.1 When a Judge issues written reasons for judgment, they will be filed with the Court Registry, where a copy may be obtained. In addition, written reasons for judgment are often available on the Provincial Court’s website. If, instead, the reasons for judgment are delivered orally without written reasons being provided, a transcript of oral reasons for judgment can be ordered and requests to listen to the audio recording of a proceeding may be made to the Court Registry in accordance with the Access to Court Records Policy.

10.2 If it is anticipated there will be considerable media interest in a particular decision, efforts will be made by the Court to ensure that the decision is posted to the Court website as soon as possible after the decision has been delivered in Court.

11. Interviews by the Media

11.1 Judges of the Court speak through their decisions and Reasons for Judgment. Judges therefore do not comment on specific cases that are or have been before the Court or may come before the Court in the future.

Contact:
Provincial Court Legal Officer
provincialcourt.bc.ca/Media

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Effective Date: 07 October 2020
NP 23

Purpose

The BC Provincial Court sits in many court locations in the province. We have been working with government and in some cases, local communities, to have the consultant that government has retained view the circuit courts and make recommendations about what steps need to be taken to make those courts safe and accessible to members of the public. Once the consultant has viewed those court locations, we continue to work with government to implement the recommended changes so that existing matters can be heard in those locations in a timely way.

To reduce the number of people attending circuit court, counsel attendance at court should be limited to appearing on a matter scheduled in court where something substantive is happening. Counsel must endeavor to avoid unnecessary personal attendances of the accused or counsel at the courthouse wherever possible. Please refer to “Alternatives to in-person appearance” in CRIM 13 Practice Direction: Initial Appearance Court During COVID-19 and Notice to the Profession and Public COVID 19: Resumption of Court Operations.

Counsel are encouraged to use the Consent Requisition or Consent Arraignment forms to have files removed from the list prior to the scheduled court date if nothing substantive will occur on that date. We have attached a list below of the Judicial Case Managers and the circuit courts they are responsible for scheduling.

If you require legal assistance with your matter, you may contact Legal Aid at 1-866-577-2525.

Notice

If your court location is listed in the table immediately below, you will be required to contact the scheduling contact noted below for your location (by email or telephone) before the date you were originally scheduled to attend Court in order to set your next appearance date or to be provided with information regarding your next appearance date. If you do not know when your next court date is, you can also contact the scheduling contact noted below to obtain that information.

COURT LOCATION SCHEDULING CONTACT
100 Mile House Cariboo.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-398-4377
Atlin L.Caporale@provnicialcourt.bc.ca
Anahim Lake Cariboo.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-398-4377
Bella Bella Vanessa.Fong@gov.bc.ca
236-468-3628
Bella Coola  Vanessa.Fong@gov.bc.ca
236-468-3628
Burns Lake Smithers.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-847-7482
Castlegar WKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-354-6870
Chetwynd Peace.District.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-787-3416
Clearwater Kamloops.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-828-4086
Creston EKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-426-1354
Dease Lake Terrace.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-638-2140
Fernie EKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-426-1354
Fort St. James PG.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-614-2740 or 250-614-2756
Fraser Lake PG.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-614-2756
Ganges/Saltspring Dun.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-746-1201
Gold River CampbellRiver.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-286-7556 (Mon and Tue)
250-334-1237 (Wed, Thu, and Fri)
Golden EKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-426-1354
Good Hope Lake L.Caporale@provnicialcourt.bc.ca
Grand Forks WKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-354-6870
Hazelton Smithers.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-847-7482
Houston Smithers.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-847-7482
Invermere EKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-426-1354
Kitimat Terrace.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-638-2140
Klemtu Vanessa.Fong@gov.bc.ca
236-468-3628
Kwadacha DKrenz@provincialcourt.bc.ca
Lillooet Kamloops.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-828-4086
Lower Post L.Caporale@provnicialcourt.bc.ca
Mackenzie PG.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-614-2740 or 250-614-2756
Masset PrinceRupert.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-847-7482
McBride PG.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-614-2756
Merritt Kamloops.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-828-4086
Nakusp WKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-354-6870
New Aiyansh Terrace.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-638-2140
Pemberton NVan.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
604-981-0293
Queen Charlotte City PrinceRupert.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-847-7482
Revelstoke Vernon.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-549-5433
Sparwood EKootenays.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-426-1354
Stewart Terrace.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-638-2140
Tofino Nanaimo.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-741-5868
Tsay Key Dene DKrenz@provincialcourt.bc.ca
Tumbler Ridge Peace.District.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-787-3416
Valemount PG.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-614-2740 or 250-614-2756
Vanderhoof PG.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-614-2740 or 250-614-2756
Ucluelet Nanaimo.Scheduling@provincialcourt.bc.ca
250-741-5868

THE FOREGOING IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE, AND ANY UPDATES WILL BE POSTED ON THE COURT’S WEBSITE.

History of Notice to the Profession and Public

  • Original Notice to the Profession and Public issued on July 17, 2020. This Notice includes information from the Circuit Courts - Update – July 3, 2020.
  • Updates to locations and manner of hearing July 29, 2020.
  • Updates to locations and manner of hearing August 7, 2020.
  • Updates to charts and contact information August 19, 2020.

By Direction of Chief Judge Melissa Gillespie
Provincial Court of British Columbia

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Effective Date: 07 October 2020​
NP 14

The following are the duties, classes of cases or matters to which Court Services Justices of the Peace (JPs) are assigned:

  1. a. All matters relating to receiving informations.
    b. Issuing process compelling the attendance of a person except:
    1. Private informations pursuant to s. 507.1 and 810 of the Criminal Code;
    2. Where such process requires a warrant or authorization to enter a dwelling house, premises or other place;
    3. Subpoenas requiring opposing counsel to give evidence.
  2. a. Consent remand(s) of persons in custody pursuant to s. 516 of the Criminal Code where the accused is represented. This assignment does not include making no contact orders under s. 516(2) of the Criminal Code.
    b. All matters relating to voluntary appearances on unexecuted small claims warrants of arrest issued under Small Claims Rule 14(6) and releases of persons arrested on warrants issued under Provincial Court (Family) Rule 6(13), Provincial Court (Adult Guardianship) Rule 3(8), and Family Maintenance Enforcement Act, s. 23(6).
    c. Where a youth court judge is not reasonably available, giving directions regarding the giving of notice pursuant to the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA), s. 26(5) (as connected with any youth bail); and adjourning proceedings or dispensing with notice pursuant to YCJA, s. 26(10).
  3. All matters relating to the approval of sureties, the perfection of bail, and the rendering of an adult or youth by a surety or responsible person under s. 766, 767, or 767.1 of the Criminal Code or s. 31(5) of the YCJA.
  4. a. Orders for the initial detention of seized items and further orders for detention of seized items, where the application is uncontested.
    b. Orders for the return or forfeiture of seized items where application is made by a prosecutor, peace officer or other person having custody of the items seized and there is no dispute or uncertainty as to the lawful owner or the lawful owner is unknown.
  5. Applications for time to pay or extensions of time to pay unless otherwise ordered by a provincial court judge. A JP who can grant time to pay can also issue a warrant of committal for a person who voluntarily chooses to serve time in custody rather than pay.
  6. Adjournments (i) in the context of performing assigned duties or (ii) on the direction of a judge (and where jurisdiction to grant adjournments is given to a judge or the court under an enactment, authorization is given pursuant to s. 31(1) of the Provincial Court Act to exercise all the powers and jurisdiction of the court with respect to adjournments).
  7. When exercising the functions of a CSB trial scheduler, fixing of dates for preliminary inquiry, trial, hearing, conference or other proceeding.
  8. Receiving oaths, affirmations, affidavits and declarations as required by federal or provincial Evidence Acts or otherwise by law.
  9. Desk Orders for Accredited Journalists, who are provided audio recordings of Court proceedings on removable media (such as compact disk) pursuant to the Access to Court Records Policy or by file transfer protocol pursuant to NM 01 Accredited Media Access to Provincial Court Proceedings during COVID-19.
  10. Where approved by the Chief Judge, and as required for backup coverage of Judicial Case Managers, any matter that a Judicial Case Manager is assigned to perform.
  11. Applications by mail to unseal an applicant’s own adult criminal pardoned or suspended files for travel purposes.

History of Notice to the Profession and Public

  • Original Notice to the Profession and Public issued on August 22, 2018 and effective October 1, 2018 (removes from previous Assignment: (i) “all matters involving judicial interim release that are uncontested as to release and the form and conditions of release including uncontested variations of existing release orders and making a detention order where counsel consent”; and (ii) making a no contact order under s. 516(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada where the accused is represented and by consent).
  • Amended Notice to the Profession and Public issued on November 27, 2018 and effective December 1, 2018 (adds “Applications by mail to unseal an applicant’s own adult criminal pardoned or suspended files for travel purposes”).
  • Amended Notice to the Profession and Public effective July 13, 2020 (adds “Family Maintenance Enforcement Act, s. 23(6)” to para. 2b and adds “or by file transfer protocol pursuant to NM 01 Accredited Media Access to Provincial Court Proceedings during COVID-19” to para. 9).
  • Amended Notice to the Profession and Public effective October 7, 2020 (adds reference to s. 810 of the Criminal Code to para. 1bi).

Melissa Gillespie
Chief Judge
Provincial Court of British Columbia

Face Masks

Effective Nov 24, people attending courthouses in British Columbia are required to wear a face mask or face covering, including in entrances, lobbies, waiting areas, registries, hallways, stairways, restrooms and elevators. In addition, people are required to wear a face mask or face covering in courtrooms unless the presiding judge, justice, master or registrar directs otherwise.

Face masks or face coverings must be worn in a manner that cover a person’s nose and mouth. If you do not have a face mask or face covering, Sheriffs will provide one when you enter the courthouse. While wearing a face mask or face covering can reduce the spread of infection, it does not substitute for physical distancing, which must be maintained whenever possible. The requirement to wear a face mask or face covering does not apply:

  • to a child who is less than twelve years of age,
  • to a person who is unable to wear a face mask or face covering because of (i) a psychological, behavioural or health condition, or (ii) a physical, cognitive or mental impairment,
  • to a person who is unable to put on or remove a face mask or face covering without the assistance of another person,
  • if the face mask or face covering is removed temporarily for the purpose of identifying the person wearing it.

In addition, all people attending courthouses in British Columbia are asked to be familiar with all health and safety protocols and to cooperate in following them in order to protect everyone in courthouses in this province.

Click on the links below for more information regarding procedures when attending proceedings in each court:

Court of Appeal for British Columbia
Supreme Court of British Columbia
Provincial Court of British Columbia

Health & Safety Protocols

Courthouses across the province are increasing in-person appearances. Read the latest directives and learn about protocols implemented by the government and the courts to ensure the health and safety of all legal stakeholders.

Guides to Virtual Court Proceedings

CBABC has prepared a series of guides to assist lawyers using Zoom and Teams for court proceedings. Visit Practice Management Resources to download the guides.

Province of BC
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Purpose

British Columbia is currently in Phase 3 of the Restart Plan1 and an increasing number of non-essential businesses, non-profit societies, and other organizations are reopening their doors or increasing their operations. Undue fears of civil liability for exposure to or transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 should not discourage persons from operating businesses and other services that are important to the reopening of BC’s economy and the provision of services that British Columbians rely on.

The purpose of the COVID-19 (Limits on Actions and Proceedings) Regulation, BC Reg 204/2020 (the Regulation) is to provide comfort and protection from civil liability to persons engaging in activities that are important to BC’s response to, and recovery from, the COVID-19 pandemic. Such activities include the operation of essential services, non-essential businesses, and non-profit services with a community benefit.

History

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a provincial state of emergency was declared on March 18, 2020 under the Emergency Program Act, RSBC 1996, c 111 (EPA). Under the authority of the EPA, the Solicitor General made the following ministerial orders to provide protection from civil liability for damages resulting, directly or indirectly, from an individual being or likely being infected with or exposed to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19):

Date Number Title
April 2, 2020 M094/2020 Protection Against Liability (COVID-19) Order
April 22, 2020 M120/2020 Protection Against Liability (COVID-19) Order No. 2
Note: M120/2020 repealed and replaced M094/2020
June 10, 2020 M183/2020 Protection Against Liability for Sports (COVID-19) Order

Ministerial Orders M094/2020 and M120/2020 provided protection to persons who operated or provided essential services. Ministerial Order M183/2020 provided protection to non-profit sports organizations, as well as their directors, officers, employees and volunteers.

Under all three ministerial orders, a person was required act in accordance with applicable emergency and public health guidance, or reasonably believe they are acting in accordance with such guidance, in order to be protected from liability. Conduct that constitutes gross negligence was not protected by any of the orders.

The COVID-19 Related Measures Act, SBC 2020, c 8 (CRMA) came into force on July 10, 2020. The CRMA enacts ministerial orders M094/2020, M120/2020, and M183/2020 as “COVID-19 provisions.” It also extends the effects of M120/2020 and M183/2020 beyond the end of the state of emergency, as follows:

  • M120/2020: 45 days beyond the end of the state of emergency.
  • M183/2020: 90 days beyond the end of the state of emergency.

M094/2020 shows in the CRMA as being extended for 45 days beyond the state of emergency, but that was changed by OIC 391/2020 (B.C. Reg 172/2020). That regulation repealed M094/2020 as a “COVID-19” provision (item 6 in Schedule 2 to the CRMA) effective April 21, 2020, which is the day before M120/2020 came into force.

Section 5 of the CRMA allows the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations to prescribe who and what acts or omissions are protected from civil liability related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such regulations can have retroactive effect and can endure for up to a year after the CRMA came into force. The ability to extend protections for up to a year beyond CRMA’s July 10, 2020 in-force date enables government to support a smooth transition out of the state of emergency, to respond to a potential further wave of COVID-19, and to support rebuilding of the economy.

Extending the effects of M120/2020 and M183/2020 beyond the end of the state of emergency was intended to ensure that there would be no gap in liability protection if the state of emergency ended before government could develop a new regulation under the CRMA.

Effect of the COVID-19 (Limits on Actions and Proceedings) Regulation

The Regulation is made under section 5 of CRMA. Under the authority of section 3 (8) (b) of CRMA, M120/2020 and M183/2020 are repealed as “COVID-19 provisions” in Schedule 2 to the CRMA, as the effects of the Regulation are broad enough that they are no longer required.

1. What damages are covered by the Regulation?

  • The Regulation applies to damages resulting, directly or indirectly, from an individual being or likely being infected with or exposed to SARS-CoV-2, which is the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • This is the same scope of damages as covered by M094/2020, M120/2020, and M183/2020.

2. Which activities are covered by the Regulation?

  • The Regulation prescribes the following acts in respect of which protection from civil proceedings is available:
    • The operation or provision of an essential service.
    • An activity that has the purpose of benefiting the community or any aspect of the community, including in relation to:
      • the relief of poverty,
      • the advancement of education or religion,
      • the promotion of health,
      • the protection of the environment,
      • the provision of services to a vulnerable or disadvantaged person or group, or
      • the provision of community recreation or leisure activities.
    • An activity, including a business, that is carried on for direct or indirect gain or profit.
  • This list of activities is broader than those that were covered by M094/2020, M120/2020 and M183/2020. For example, the Regulation adds coverage for non-essential businesses, for-profit sport activities, and non-profit activities that are neither essential services nor related to sports.

3. Who is protected by the Regulation?

  • The Regulation provides protection from civil proceedings to any person engaged in a prescribed act that is identified in the Regulation, including if engaging in that act in any capacity on behalf of another person or entity.
  • That means that the Regulation provides protection not only to the directors, proprietors, and primary operators of those activities (i.e. the owners of a business or the directors of a non-profit society), but also to those acting on their behalf, such as employees and volunteers.

4. What conduct is not covered by the Regulation?

  • The Regulation does not cover conduct that constitutes gross negligence.
  • The Regulation does not apply if the person does not follow, or does not reasonably believe they are following, all applicable emergency and public health guidance.
  • The Regulation does not extend to the conduct of private individuals in their personal lives. For example, the Regulation is not intended to extend to activities such as a pick-up soccer game or backyard barbecue with friends.

5. When does the Regulation apply?

  • The Regulation applies retroactively to January 1, 2020 and will remain in force unless and until the CRMA is repealed. The CRMA will be automatically repealed one year after its July 10, 2020 in-force date.
  • The repeal of the CRMA will not affect any protection from civil liability that is acquired under section 5 of the CRMA (see s. 6 of the CRMA).

6. Does the Regulation affect any other protections or defences already available?

  • The regulation is not to be read as affecting, limiting, or abrogating the protection from liability, or other defences from liability, that may otherwise be available to a person or entity.
  • To be clear, this includes other protections or defences available at common law, in another enactment, or in Treaty First Nations’ Final Agreements.

Download a PDF of this Information Bulletin


1 https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/public-safety-and-emergency-services/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/gdx/bcs_restart_plan_web.pdf

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COVID-19 Related Measures Act:

On July 10, 2020, the COVID-19 Related Measures Act, S.B.C. 2020, c. 8 (CRMA) came into force. The CRMA addresses legal and practical issues related to supporting BC’s Restart Plan for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The CRMA:

  1. makes targeted amendments to the Emergency Program Act, RSBC 1996, c. 111 (EPA) to clarify the power of the Minister to make orders under section 10 (1) of the EPA, and elevates the ability to temporarily modify or alter the application of an enactment to the Lieutenant Governor in Council;
  2. provides a temporary legal framework to enact as COVID-19 provisions under the CRMA ministerial orders and regulations made under the EPA in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to allow the effects of such orders and regulations to continue after the state of emergency ends; and
  3. protects prescribed persons or classes of persons from proceedings for civil liability for damages related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and provides authority for government to make regulations for that purpose.

Part 2 of the COVID-19 Related Measures Act: COVID-19 Provisions

Purpose

On March 18, 2020, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General (Minister) declared a state of emergency under the EPA.

Following the declaration, the Minister made a number of ministerial orders under the EPA to prevent, respond to or alleviate effects of the pandemic. Without the CRMA, those orders would have expired when the provincial state of emergency ends.

The CRMA provides a temporary legal framework to enact ministerial orders and regulations made under the EPA during the state of emergency, and to allow for flexibility to extend those orders and regulations beyond the end of the state of emergency. The CRMA, therefore, provides government with the tools it needs to continue to assist and protect British Columbians following the expiry of the state of emergency, and to ensure that British Columbians are not faced with unintended practical and legal consequences.

Effect

Part 2 (COVID-19 Provisions) of the CRMA:

  • Enacts some COVID-19-related ministerial orders or regulations made under section 10 or 10.1 of the EPA as provisions of the CRMA, and simultaneously repeals those orders or regulations under the EPA.
  • Extends some of the ministerial orders made under the EPA during the state of emergency for 45 days or 90 days after the date on which the last extension of the state of emergency expires or is cancelled. The details of which orders have been extended and for how long can be found in sections 3 (5) (a) and (b) of the CRMA and regulations made pursuant to sections 3 (5) (c) and 3 (6).
  • Provides authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to make regulations to:
    • provide for a different expiry date for some ministerial orders (i.e., other than 45 or 90 days);
    • add additional COVID-19-related EPA orders or regulations to the Schedules to the CRMA (i.e., to enact them as provisions of the CRMA and extend their application);
    • repeal an order or regulation (or part of one) that was enacted as a provision of the CRMA.

Orders or regulations enacted under the CRMA may be further extended by regulation, for a maximum period of up to one year from the date that the CRMA came into force. The CRMA and any regulations made under it will be automatically repealed on that date.

The details of which orders have been added to the Schedules to CRMA and extended or repealed can be found by reviewing the CRMA and the list of regulations made under the CRMA.

The Minister must report orders and regulations made under section 10 (1) or section 10.1 of the EPA to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly within 5 days of making that order or regulation. Similarly, the Attorney General must report to the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly within 5 days of making a regulation under the CRMA.

Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation

Contravention of ministerial orders and regulations under the EPA is a ticketable offence. Some of the ministerial orders and regulations made under the EPA have been enacted as provisions of the CRMA. To ensure that the enforcement mechanism continues to apply, OIC 392/2020 amends the Violation Ticket Administration and Fines Regulation under the Offence Act. This ensures that the fines for contravention of a ministerial order or regulation under the EPA continue to apply to contravention of the order or regulation enacted as a provision of the CRMA.

When did the COVID-19 Related Measures Act come into force?

The CRMA came into force on July 10, 2020.

Links to the CRMA and OIC No. 392/2020:

COVID-19 Related Measures Act:
https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/20008

Order in Council No. 391/2020:
https://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/id/oic/oic_cur/0391_2020


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On July 8, 2020, the Legislature passed the COVID-19 Related Measures Act (CRMA). Part 2 of the CRMA (COVID-19 Provisions) provides a temporary legal framework to enact and extend the duration of ministerial orders made under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CRMA came into force on July 10, 2020.

Background

On March 26, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General (“Solicitor General”) issued Ministerial Order MO86 under the EPA, the Limitation Periods (COVID-19) Order (“Limitations Order #1”), regarding mandatory limitation periods and mandatory time periods.

On April 8, 2020, the Solicitor General made Ministerial Order M098, the Limitation Periods (COVID-19) Order No. 2 (“Limitations Order #2”), which repealed and replaced Limitations Order #1 on April 15, 2020.

Purpose of Limitation Order #2

As with the now-repealed Limitations Order #1, the purposes of Limitations Order #2 were to:

  • protect public health by suspending or enabling the suspension of time periods in legal and administrative proceedings, as it may not be possible for a person involved to take steps required by legislation; and
  • avoid the problems that a delay of proceedings may cause to a person seeking to enforce their legal rights as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and necessary public health measures taken in response to it during the public state of emergency.

Limitations Order #2 also addressed unintended consequences to the construction industry as a result of the suspension of time periods to commence a court proceeding.

Effect of Part 2 of the CRMA on Limitation Orders #1 and #2

Limitations Order #1

The CRMA:

  • enacts Limitations Order #1 as a provision of the CRMA, effective March 26, 2020;
  • repeals Limitations Order #1 as a ministerial order under the EPA; and repeals the enactment of Limitation Order #1 as a provision of the CRMA, effective April 14, 2020 by OIC 391/2020, made July 10, 2020.

Limitations Order #2

The CRMA:

  • enacts Limitations Order #2 as a provision of the CRMA effective April 8, 2020 and extends its application for a further period of 90 days from the coming into force of the CRMA; and
  • repeals Limitations Order #2 as a ministerial order under the EPA.

Therefore, under the CRMA:

Limitations Order #1, enacted as a provision of the CRMA, is in effect from March 26, 2020 to April 14, 2020; and

Limitations Order #2, enacted as a provision of the CRMA:

  • is in effect from April 15, 2020, until 90 days after the last extension of the declaration of the COVID-19-related state of emergency expires or is cancelled;
  • can be further extended by regulation; and
  • is identical in purpose to Limitations Order #2.

BC Reg. 199/2020 – COVID-19 (Limitation Periods in Court Proceedings) Regulation:

On August 4, 2020, the COVID-19 (Limitation Periods in Court Proceedings) Regulation, BC. Reg. 199/2020 was made under the EPA and the CRMA. The regulation does as follows:

  • Under the authority of s. 3 (8) (a) of the CRMA, repeals section 2 of Item 7 in Schedule 2 to the CRMA (Limitations Order #2). The remainder of that item is unaffected.
  • Creates a new regulation under s. 10.1 of the EPA that replicates the section repealed above but separates each level of court into its own paragraph.
  • Breaking each level of court into a separate paragraph in the new regulation, as opposed to listing them all in the same sentence, will allow flexibility to set unique end dates for the suspension for each level of court, as appropriate in the circumstances.
  • Under the authority of s. 3 (8) (b) of the CRMA, adds this new regulation made under s. 10.1 of the EPA to Schedule 2 of the CRMA.
  • Under the authority of s. 3 (5) (c) of the CRMA, extends the effects of the new EPA regulation for 45 days beyond the end of the state of emergency in respect of the Court of Appeal, and for 90 days beyond the end of the state of emergency in respect of the Provincial Court and Supreme Court.
  • There are no changes to the breadth of the suspension of limitation periods and other mandatory time periods from Limitations Order #2. There is also no change to the exemption of the Builders Lien Act and Division 5 [Builders Liens and Other Charges] of Part 5 [Property] of the Strata Property Act. The only net effect is a change to the end date for the suspension in respect of the Court of Appeal, from 90 to 45 days beyond the end of the state of emergency

How is your limitation period or other mandatory time period affected?

Limitations Order #1 and Limitations Order #2 (including when enacted as COVID-19 provisions) and the COVID-19 (Limitation Periods in Court Proceedings) Regulation (including when enacted as a COVID-19 provision) serve to suspend the limitation periods and other mandatory time periods to which they apply. Accordingly, in calculating the end date of your limitation period or other time period, you do not count the days on which the applicable provisions were in force.

For example, if you had five days remaining in your limitation period before Limitations Order #1 came into force, then you would still have five days remaining, starting on the day after the applicable paragraph of subsection 1 (1) of the COVID-19 (Limitation Periods in Court Proceedings) Regulation (as enacted as a COVID-19 provision) is repealed. The repeal dates for the provisions in that regulation that apply to each level of court are specified in OIC 453/2020 (BC Reg. 199/2020).

As of August 4, 2020, OIC 453/2020 (BC Reg. 199/2020) extends periods for commencing proceedings in the Court of Appeal for 45 days beyond the end of the state of emergency, and periods for commencing proceedings in the Supreme Court or Provincial Court for 90 days beyond the end of the state of emergency.


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On July 8, 2020, the Legislature passed the COVID-19 Related Measures Act (CRMA). Part 2 of the CRMA (COVID-19 Provisions) provides a temporary legal framework to enact and extend the duration of ministerial orders or regulations made under the Emergency Program Act (EPA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CRMA came into force on July 10, 2020.

Effect of Part 2 of the CRMA on the Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order (M162)

Background

On May 19, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued Ministerial Order M162 under the EPA, the Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order (Electronic Witnessing Order).

The Electronic Witnessing Order provides that during the COVID-19 state of emergency:

  • an enduring power of attorney or representation agreement may be signed and witnessed while the witness and the person making or signing the document are in each others’ electronic presence, so long as the witness is a lawyer or notary public; and
  • an enduring power of attorney or representation agreement may be signed in counterpart.

Effect of Part 2 (COVID-19 Provisions) of the CRMA

The CRMA:

  • enacts the Electronic Witnessing Order as a provision of the CRMA, effective May 19, 2020 and extends its application for a further period of 90 days after the end of the state of emergency that was declared on March 18, 2020;
  • permits the Lieutenant Governor in Council, by regulation, to extend the operation of the Electronic Witnessing Order as a provision of the CRMA, for up to one year; and
  • repeals the Electronic Witnessing Order as a ministerial order under the EPA.

References to “this order” in the Electronic Witnessing Order, enacted as a provision of the CRMA.

Section 3 (8) of the Electronic Witnessing Order provides as follows (underlining added):

(8) An enduring power of attorney made in accordance with this order must include a statement that it was signed and witnessed in accordance with this order.

Similarly, section 4 (7) of the Electronic Witnessing Order provides (underlining added):\

(7) A representation agreement made in accordance with this order must include a statement that it was signed and witnessed in accordance with this order.

The Electronic Witnessing Order is now enacted as a provision of the CRMA, continuing the requirements of sections 3 (8) and 4 (7). Government takes the position that:

  • to comply with these requirements, a statement pursuant to sections 3 (8) and 4 (7) could be phrased as being signed and witnessed "in accordance with the Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order as enacted by the COVID-19 Related Measures Act" (underlining for emphasis only);
  • an enduring power of attorney or representation agreement made on or after July 10, 2020 (the day the CRMA came into force) should reference the CRMA. However, as M162 has been enacted as a provision of CRMA, a purposive and liberal interpretation suggests that reference to M162 is adequate; and
  • the repeal of the Electronic Witnessing Order as a ministerial order under the EPA does not impact the validity of enduring powers of attorney and representation agreements made pursuant to that Order (i.e., prior to the coming into force of the CRMA).

The CRMA does not enact the Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order

Background

On May 19, 2020, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued Ministerial Order M161 under the EPA, the Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order.

The CRMA does not enact the Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order; it will be repealed when Bill 21, the Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act, 2020, is brought into force or expire when the Declaration of Emergency ends, whichever comes first.

Bill 21, the Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act, 2020

When brought into force, the amendments made by Bill 21 will allow wills to be executed and witnessed while the will-maker and witnesses are in each others’ electronic presence. Therefore, remote witnessing of wills will continue beyond the expiry of the state of emergency. The sections of Bill 21 that permit wills to be made in electronic form will be brought into force by regulation, once the Supreme Court probate rules have been updated to address the filing of electronic wills.

Bill 21 contains transitional provisions that provide that a will that was remotely witnessed after March 18, 2020, is valid. Therefore, the legislation will replace the temporary remote witnessing provisions in the Electronic Witnessing of Wills (COVID-19) Order (M161) and will also validate wills that were remotely witnessed between March 18, 2020, and the issuance of M161. Government’s position is that remotely witnessed wills that reference M161 do not need to be changed.

Wills, Estates and Succession Amendment Act, 2020 (third reading, Bill 21 - 2020):
https://www.leg.bc.ca/parliamentary-business/legislation-debates-proceedings/41st-parliament/5th-session/bills/third-reading/gov21-3


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From the Ministry of Attorney General

Working with the judiciary and other justice and public safety-sector stakeholders, government is moving to safely support increased in-person hearings.

“COVID-19 has brought unprecedented challenges for court users and justice sector partners,” said David Eby, Attorney General. “Working with the judiciary, we are assessing courthouses to determine the best approach to protect the health of court users. Each courthouse is different, but this might mean measures such as marking floors to indicate distances in lines at registry, elevators, washrooms and inside courtrooms, and disinfecting courtrooms after use.”

Courthouses and courtrooms throughout the province are being assessed to ensure they meet the health and safety requirements established by the provincial health officer and WorkSafeBC. Assessments will also determine what additional physical distancing and hygiene measures will be required to stop the transmission of COVID-19, prior to resuming in-person appearances. Plans may differ by location and courthouse configuration.

As part of these assessments, additional health and safety measures being considered include, but are not limited to:

  • reconfiguring and removing furniture to open space in courtrooms and to keep people physically distant from one another;
  • adjusting maximum occupant levels to account for physical distancing requirements;
  • marking floors to indicate the directional flow of movement and places to stand while maintaining appropriate physical distancing at the registry, in elevators and washrooms, and inside courtrooms and courthouses;
  • posting clear and visible signage throughout the courthouse and courtrooms to ensure court personnel and users are aware of and are able to follow health and safety protocols;
  • verbally screening court personnel and users for COVID-19 symptoms or exposure prior to entering court environments;
  • establishing protocols for handling documents and evidence;
  • installing hand sanitizer stations at courthouse entrances, outside courtrooms and in elevator lobbies;
  • placing hand sanitizer bottles in courtrooms at the dais, counsel desks, the witness stand and the clerk's desk;
  • disinfecting courtrooms after use; and
  • frequent cleaning of high-touch surfaces in courtrooms and in public areas throughout the courthouses.

The ministry is in the process of meeting with stakeholders, including judges, counsel, court managers and others, to make recommendations and implement changes necessary to keep the public safe when attending court. 

This work is occurring now, with the expectation that within the next few weeks, a limited number of courtrooms will be available throughout the province for in-person hearings

The ministry has also been working to increase technology enhancements outlined in the Court Digital Transformation Strategy. This includes continued expansion of technology for virtual hearings in cases where it is deemed appropriate.

In addition, the Province has also established two advisory groups to help government support courts and tribunals in delivering services as effectively as possible during the pandemic, and in minimizing its impact on the justice system.

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ORDER OF THE MINISTER OF
PUBLIC SAFETY AND SOLICITOR GENERAL

Emergency Program Act

Ministerial Order No. M162

WHEREAS a declaration of a state of emergency throughout the whole of the Province of British Columbia was declared on March 18, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic;

AND WHEREAS individuals in British Columbia must be able to make enduring powers of attorney and representation agreements in a manner that reduces the threat of COVID-19 to the health and safety of persons;

AND WHEREAS section 10 (1) of the Emergency Program Act provides that I may do all acts and implement all procedures that I consider necessary to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of any emergency or disaster;

I, Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, order that the attached Electronic Witnessing of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Representation Agreements (COVID-19) Order is made.

Download the Ministerial Order.